Zuzana Hejnova from the Czech Republic, the 2013 and 2015 world champion in the 400m hurdles, has announced her retirement at the age of 35.
After missing the Tokyo Olympics through injury, Hejnova was initially planning to draw her illustrious career to a close at the 2022 European Athletics Championships in Munich but she has revealed on Instagram that she is expecting her first child later this year.
"I have had a great career and from the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who supported me. Now I'm looking forward to a new role," she said.
Hejnova’s international career goes back almost two decades to the 2003 World Athletics U18 Championships where she won gold in the 400m hurdles at the age of 16. She emulated that success at junior level two years later at the European Athletics U20 Championships.
Success in the senior ranks wasn’t immediately forthcoming but Hejnova enjoyed a remarkable run of success in the 400m hurdles in the mid-2010s, beginning with a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Hejnova was at the height of her powers the following season which was capped by her gold medal at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow. Her winning time of 52.83 still makes her the sixth fastest European 400m hurdler in history.
Hejnova also went unbeaten in her 13 races at the 400m hurdles in 2013 and she was crowned female European Athlete of the Year at the annual Golden Tracks award ceremony.
After an injury-plagued 2014, Hejnova returned to her brilliant best the following year to retain her world title in Beijing. She remains the only female athlete to win back-to-back gold medals in the 400m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships.
Her last major medal came at the 2017 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade where she won silver in the 400m but Hejnova was still a perennial finalist on the global stage, finishing fourth and fifth respectively at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships.
There will be a special retirement ceremony for Hejnova on home soil at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting on 31 May.